All-night talks in Northern Ireland aimed at finding ways to ease tensions between Catholics and Protestants have failed to produce a deal. The province has seen some of the worst rioting in a decade in 2013.
The 18-hour talks between the leaders of Northern Ireland's Catholic and Protestant communities ended without agreement early on Tuesday morning, the US diplomat chairing the discussions said.
Richard Haass (pictured above) said a working group made up of representatives from the five main political parties would now look for other ways to resolve key issues causing dispute between the two communities.
These include questions regarding the flying of flags, and loyalist parades, both of which have caused contention, and sometimes rioting, in Belfast.
Earlier this year, dozens of police were injured during rioting after it was decided to reduce the number of days the British flag flies over Belfast city hall.
The talks were preceded by six months of negotiations that were meant to secure an agreement before Christmas. Haass extended that deadline to the end of the year.
Surge in rioting
The negotiations came in response to some of the worst violence in the province since a peace and power-sharing deal in 1998 put an end to three decades of sectarian conflict between pro-British Protestants and Catholics who generally favor unification with Ireland.
The draft agreement under discussion also proposed the creation of new institutions to deal with investigations of crimes committed during those decades, known as the Troubles.
Irish militants opposed to the 1998 deal have planted several bombs in central Belfast in recent months, but no serious injuries have been caused.
More than 3,600 people died in the Troubles in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to 1998.
tj/ (Reuters, AP)